• laurajparker

15th c. Italian Gown in the style of Ghirlandaio





I’ve spent the majority of my time over the past few years exploring late 16th century working class Italian clothing, as depicted by Campi.  For this project, I decided to go about a hundred years earlier than that, and explore the working-class women in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s frescoes at the Tournabuoni Chapel:  specifically ‘Birth of St. John the Baptist’ and ‘Birth of St. Mary’.   Although these are religious/allegorical scenes, the clothing matches the style of the mid-late 1480’s, when these frescoes were completed.



'Birth of St. Mary' - Domenico Ghirlandaio

Detail from 'Birth of St. John the Baptist' - Domenico Ghirlandaio

Detail from 'Birth of St. Mary' - Domenico Ghirlandaio

Detail from 'Birth of St. John the Baptist' - Domenico Ghirlandaio

I decided to start with the gamurra. Since there is no evidence for boned bodices in Italy at this point, my goal is to make this dress without the use of a corded corset or inner layer.  I started out with my trusty Gothic Fitted Dress pattern. I started out by cutting out my lining and interlining pieces – three layers of 5.3 oz linen.


I machine quilted two layers of linen together to act as a supportive interlining:


Putting it together:  I ended up having to take the side seams in quite a bit (which was a nice surprise), and tweaked the center front to get better bust support.  With this style, it’s best to fit the underbust fairly tight, to support the bust – but let the fabric skim over the torso below that.  The bust should be supported and rounded, not squished.


....then apparently I stopped taking progress photos. Add outer fabric, eyelets, skirt, sleeves, hem, and finishing touches, and we have a dress!


Photo by Emmie Smith


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